Knowing a cats basic needs makes all the difference
ALWAYS REMEMBER: move at the speed of the cat!
Basic cat needs start with their feeling safe, secure, and stimulated through environmental enrichment. Essential in achieving these include fresh food and clean water, litter boxes that are cleaned regularly, scratching posts and climbing structures, areas where cats can rest and relax, toys with interactive play, frequent grooming, carriers for safe transportation, all in the comforts of home.
For more information, there is an excellent summary of a cat’s basic needs along with tips on how to solve some of the most common problems on the animal sheltering website. GO THERE IT’S WORTH YOUR TIME!
Here are a few excerpts from the guide mentioned above from the Humane Society of the United States.
Note: Karen Shinevar, one of CPAW NJ’s founders, took this class and believes that if we just understood these three ideas we could solve most issues people believe are “behavior problems”. “Cats don’t do anything to “misbehave”; they act to try and satisfy their basic needs.” Bottom line–it’s not about you, it’s about the cat! KS >^..^<
BIG IDEA #1: …they need to feel safe and secure in their home environment.
A cat who feels safe perceives the home environment as a territory where she can move freely and engage in her daily routines (eliminating, eating/drinking, playing, resting, sleeping, scratching) without fear of any threat to her well-being.
A cat who feels secure perceives the home environment as a territory that is familiar and predictable and which lets her choose where (and in some cases with whom) to engage in her daily routines. Familiarity, predictability and choice enable the cat to feel a sense of control over her environment, which coincides with this sense of security.
How do we create a sense of safety and security for cats?
Maintain predictability and familiarity in the home environment.
Provide adequate resources so the cat feels in control of her environment.
Provide adequate territory within the home.
Engaging the cat in daily interactive play sessions to decrease stress and increase confidence.
Cats perceive the world very differently…
Many cat owners do not appreciate the extent to which human and cat perceptions of the world differ. When cat owners understand their cats’ very specific needs and perceive the home environment from their cats’ points of view, they can begin to make sense of their cat’s behavior. This, in turn, increases the cat owner’s motivation to resolve the problem because she realizes the behavior is not the cat’s fault, nor is it the cat’s intention to cause the owner grief.
BIG IDEA #2: …they need to be stimulated in their home environment.
How do we make sure a cat is stimulated?
Window perches to view the outdoors
Tunnels, paper bags and boxes to explore
Solo toys that the cat bats around or tries to catch
Food foraging options in the home, like treat balls
Cat videos (which some cats enjoy watching)
Catios that allow cats to be outdoors while remaining safe
BIG IDEA #3: …they need to exercise their natural instincts.
The most common natural instincts that can lead to what we perceive as “behavior issues” are:
Climbing and resting on high surfaces.
Need to expend energy.
Eliminating in a clean and safe, secure area.
Follow these steps to resolve many behavior issues:
- Recognize that the cat is displaying a natural behavior.
- Redirect the cat to an appropriate surface or object.
- Deter the cat from the inappropriate surface or object.
NOTE: the above excerpts don’t contain all of the details, but it is these basic principles we believe will help you understand how to satisfy your cat’s basic instincts and make your home a happier place for two and four-footed family members!